All Articles For Church and State

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Mr. Lanting, a member of South Holland Protestant Reformed Church, is a practicing attorney. It’s time parents were free to choose the schools that their children attend. This approach will create the competitive climate that stimulates excellence in our private and parochial schools as well.  President Bush, April, 1991  The Bush Administration is sparing no expense to embrace a far-reaching definition of choice – including aid to parochial schools, if that will pass the hurdle of the 1st Amendment. Education Secretary Lamar Alexander has called government support of parochial school students “as American as apple pie.” Alexander hopes eventually to...

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Mr. Lanting, a member of the South Holland Protestant Reformed Church, is a practicing attorney. The wall of separation between church and state is a metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned.—Chief Justice William Rehnquist The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision shortly in the public school graduation prayer case of Lee v. Weisman. This pending case gained nationwide attention after the Court recently intimated that it may use the Weisman decision to forge significant changes in church-state law. Constitutional scholars,...

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Mr. Lanting, a member of South Holland Protestant Reformed Church, is a practicing attorney. Inter-religious Coalition Promotes a Religious Freedom Restoration Act In an unusual showing of solidarity, a large and diverse group of liberal and conservative religious groups have formed a rare coalition to support and sponsor a new federal statute calculated to enhance religious freedom in this country. Angered by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in the notorious case of Employment Division v. Smith, the coalition has convinced 104 U.S. Representatives to co-sponsor a new bill in Congress dubbed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (‘RFRA”). The...

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Mr. Lanting, a member of South Holland Protestant Reformed Church, is a practicing attorney. Public Funds and Private Education Ever since the Bush Administration unveiled its “America 2000” program in the spring of 1991, the national debate over “school choice” has been escalating rapidly. In fact, many are predicting that school choice will soon eclipse abortion as the most controversial political, social, and church/state issue of this decade. Engendered by growing frustration with the nation’s notoriously inept public school monopoly,-school choice was originally conceived to foster healthy competition between public schools by eliminating residency requirements and permitting parents to choose...

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Mr. VanEngen, a member of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hull, Iowa, is a practicing attorney. Several past articles under this Church and State rubric have addressed the subject of homosexuality and the trend in the law to protect the practice of the sin of homosexuality. This author’s home state of Iowa recently made national news when the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that homosexual “couples” could not be denied marriage licenses.¹ Believers would do well to pay close attention to the progression of the law in this regard. The trends that are being established today may very well have serious...

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Mr. Lanting, a member of Cornerstone Protestant Reformed Church, is a practicing attorney. May the State of Vermont exclude same-sex couples from the benefits and protections that its laws provide to opposite-sex married couples? That is the fundamental question we address, a question that the Court well knows arouses deeply-felt religious, moral, and political beliefs…. We hold that the State is constitutionally required to extend to same-sex couples the common benefits and protections that flow from marriage under Vermont law. Whether this ultimately takes the form of inclusion within the marriage laws or a parallel “domestic partnership” system or some...

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Mr. Lanting, a member of South Holland Protestant Reformed Church, is a practicing attorney. IRS Requires Substantiation for Charitable Contributions The new law disallows a deduction for any contribution of $250 or more that is not substantiated by a written acknowledgement from the charity. IRS Revenue Procedure 90-12 (1994) The treasurers of our churches, schools, and denominational organizations should be aware of new IRS rules regarding charitable gifts effective for 1994. The new rules declare that no charitable deduction will be allowed for gifts in excess of $250 unless the taxpayer provides the IRS with a written receipt from the...

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Mr. Lanting, a member of South Holland Protestant Reformed Church, is a practicing attorney. “To obey the Establishment Claus, it was not necessary for the University to deny eligibility to student publications because of their religious viewpoint. The viewpoint discrimination inherent in the University’s regulation required public officials to discern the student newspaper’s underlying philosophic assumptions respecting religious theory and belief. That course of action was a denial of the right of free speech and… undermines the very governmental neutrality the Establishment Clause requires.” Rosenberger v. University of Virginia, U.S. Supreme Court (1995) (majority opinion) “[The student newspaper in question...

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Mr. Lanting, a member of South Holland Protestant Reformed Church, is a practicing attorney. The [Milwaukee voucher] program does not involve the state in any way with the school’s governance, curriculum, or day-to-day affairs. The state’s regulation of participating private schools, while designed to insure that the program’s educational purposes are fulfilled, does not approach the level of constitutionally impermissible involvement. Supreme Court of Wisconsin, Majority Opinion (June 10, 1998). Early this summer, the Wisconsin Supreme Court gave the school voucher movement its most significant legal victory. In a landmark 4-2 decision, Wisconsin’s highest court surprisingly ruled that the controversial...

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Mr. Lanting, a member of South Holland Protestant Reformed Church, is a practicing attorney. Those of us who wrote Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act are . . . terminally ill people who believe it is our right—not the government’s—to decide when and how our lives should end. -Geoff Sugarman, Oregon Right to Die (1994) The Oregon Death with Dignity Act, a ballot initiative ostensibly enhancing the freedom of dying patients, is in fact a frightful license for physicians to prescribe death, free from outside scrutiny and immune from possible prosecution—all in the name of a humane and dignifies death. Relief...

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